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Who Is Hugo Broos?

SAFA confirmed that Hugo Broos will take over as the Bafana Bafana coach today, but who is the 69-year-old Belgian who has been tasked with turning around the national team’s fortunes?

SAFA Announce New Bafana Coach

Who is Hugo Broos?

Broos first came to the attention of most of us here in South Africa, when he took charge of Cameroon and led them to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2017. But by that time he was already 64 years old, and an extremely experienced coach at club level.

Playing Career

The new Bafana coach is a well known figure in his native Belgium, and across parts of Europe. He is a former international defender, who played 24 times for his country. He was a member of the 1986 World Cup squad, where Belgium finished fourth. He played for just two clubs in his two-decade playing career, for Belgian giants Anderlecht from 1970 to 1983, spending the next five years at Club Brugge before retiring from playing in 1988. He won domestic leagues and cups with both clubs, and also won the European Cup Winners Cup twice, the UEFA Cup once and the European Super Cup twice.

Becoming a Coach

After starting his coaching career as an assistant at second division club, RWD Molenbeek, he took charge of Club Brugge in 1991, a big task for the young coach he was then, but as a relative rookie he led them to two league championships, while they also winning six other trophies. From 1997 to 2002 he was at Excelsior Mouscron, before coaching Anderlecht for two years, where he won another league title. He then moved on to KRC Genk for three seasons. He was the Belgian Professional Manager of the Year four times, at three different clubs (Anderlecht, Brugge and Genk).

Broos then moved outside Belgium for the first time to Panserraikos in Greece before having stints at Trabzonspor (Turkey), Zulte Waregem back in Belgium, and at Algerian clubs JS Kabyle and NA Hussein Dey. 

Broos’ First Words As Bafana Coach

Cameroon & Afcon

And then in 2016 he was appointed manager of Cameroon, his first and until now, only international coaching role. Broos had reportedly responded to an online advert for the job, and his impressive resume was enough to convince FECAFOOT to appoint him.

He was always outspoken during his time on the continent, and there were stories that he may have rubbed some of the players the wrong way. Fans and media were also critical of the Belgian coach, but perhaps that also came down to the revolution he brought into the setup, as he chose to discard many seniors players during his tenure to bring in a new generation of players into the team.

This is where many South Africans may first remember him, as his first game in charge was against Bafana Bafana. In fact many people around the world may remember that game, because Hlompho Kekana scored that Puskas nominated goal in that match. While both games Bafana played against Cameroon ended in draws, 2-2 away and goalless at home, Broos’s team ran away with the group where the only one team qualified for the finals.

Of course Cameroon would go on to win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. It was actually a remarkable achievement as many pundits didn’t consider the Indomitable Lions a favourite for the tournament at the time, especially after eight players had snubbed call ups. The five time champions would find their rhythm in the knockout stages and went on to beat favourites Egypt in the final.

However ten months after leading them to that trophy, Broos was fired by the West African country, after failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Broos also reportedly had fall outs with a number of players and refused to take up residence in Cameroon.

After leaving Cameroon, Broos became Sporting Director at KV Oostende, and was also caretaker coach for a period. He left the club after a year.

Broos has been linked with Bafana Bafana prior to this, and had shown interest in coming to South Africa before, having also once been linked to Orlando Pirates.

And now on 5 May 2021, he was unveiled as Molefi Ntseki’s successor. Broos, who joined the announcement via Zoom from his home in Belgium, is expected to come to South Africa next week.

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